Court: Foreign Workers Will Continue to Pay Court Deposits Up Front

YERUSHALAYIM -
An African laborer rides a bike carrying fabric along a main street in South Tel Aviv. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The High Court has rejected a petition against a government requirement that foreign workers and Palestinian Authority residents with Israeli work permits post a bond that would be used for court costs if they violate the terms of their employment visas. The rule, which has been in effect since August 2016, will remain in effect as a result of the court decision.

The order to require the posting of the bond was enacted by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who claimed that in many cases of work visa violations, the state had no means by which to recover costs associated with actions against defendants, who usually refused to pay costs if they lost their cases and had their work permits revoked.

Several groups representing foreign workers petitioned the court against the rule, claiming that it was discriminatory and harmful to the foreign workers, who were already underpaid. The court ruled that while it could be argued that the rights of the workers were harmed, there was no guarantee that fees would be collected if the state took a worker to court, and that the bond would be refunded with interest if the worker were to leave the country or his permit were to lapse.

In practice, the High Court said in its opinion, the labor courts that dealt with these cases had shown no tendency to collect the fees if there were a question on whether the worker was guilty of work visa violations; with the fee issue out of the way, courts could more easily concentrate on the actual issues in the case, it said.